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Katherine McLaughlin: An Advocate for Better Health | Extraordinarywomen

Katherine McLaughlin is a proponent of health: particular person health, office health, faculty health, group health. It’s on the subject of sexual health that she’s based mostly her complete profession.

McLaughlin, a local of Ithaca, N.Y., started working for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England after incomes her diploma in sociology from UMass-Amherst (she additionally has a grasp’s in schooling from Antioch University New England in Keene). She began as a receptionist with the group, working on the workplaces in Lebanon and Newport, and relocated to Keene when her husband acquired a job as a public defender on the town.

It was then she started working for Planned Parenthood as a sexual educator and coach locally.

“Women’s health has always been an interest of mine,” stated McLaughlin, who teaches human sexuality at Keene State College.

Unplanned being pregnant is on the prime of her record of pursuits, which led her to hitch the Family Planning Collaborative. It was a 10-year effort (from 1997 to 2007) amongst social service businesses and Cheshire Medical Center to offer household planning schooling and help to lower-income women.

The collaborative grew from observing the variety of single younger women with infants dwelling in homeless shelters. At the time, about 40 % of all births in Cheshire County resulted from unplanned pregnancies.

“(Sexual education) is an area we don’t address very well in this country with access to contraception and it’s really important to address it because when we don’t talk about this topic there are higher rates of teen pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases,”

McLaughlin stated. “Statistics are better when you talk about it and we have a healthier country. I thought it was important to be that voice.”

As a part of the trouble, McLaughlin led many trainings on this space on the subjects of household planning and contraception. She additionally did a number of trainings annually for social service suppliers, highschool counselors, Cheshire Medical Center employees, and males’s and women’s shelters.

In the primary yr of the collaborative, there have been 62 teen births at Cheshire Medical Center. In its last yr, the quantity was about 36. 

“The reason it worked,” she stated, “is because we had medical and social service providers meeting on a regular basis to talk about how to reduce unplanned and teen pregnancy.”

After 22 years working for Planned Parenthood, McLaughlin went to work for Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene as supervisor of Healthy Monadnock’s Champions program. Healthy Monadnock, based and developed by CMC/DHK, is a group engagement initiative designed to foster and maintain a constructive tradition of health all through Cheshire County and the Monadnock Region.

Champions are people, organizations and faculties working to enhance the environments the place individuals stay, study, work and play. McLaughlin supervises work website and faculty wellness advisers.

“It’s policy, environmental and cultural changes so it’s easier to be healthy,” she stated of this system, whether or not it is instilling a smoke-free office, providing wholesome meals decisions or possibilities for bodily exercise through the workday.

There are 25 faculties and 180 organizations collaborating (60 implementing work website wellness methods) and a part of McLaughlin’s future efforts will concentrate on partaking extra people and full cities.

“There are success stories, blog posts, social media – letting everyone know all the great work we’re doing,” she stated.

When McLaughlin just isn’t at work, the Westmoreland resident might be seen swimming on the Cheshire County YMCA or on her hand cycle on Keene’s rail path system. She makes use of a hand cycle as a result of she suffered a spinal twine damage in 1990. When she’s not on the path or within the pool, her essential transportation is a wheelchair.

“It’s given me a different understanding of disability issues than I had before,” she stated. “I think that awareness is good in being empathetic to other groups.”

While she hasn’t let her bodily incapacity sluggish her down any, it is made her extra affected person. “It’s a skill I had to develop,” she stated. “I have to rely on people sometimes, which is hard because I’m independent.”

McLaughlin, who stated she typically does not take into consideration her personal, feels a robust have to fight stereotypes about individuals with disabilities. “I think the more comfortable people are, the more they understand,” she stated.

In the private time she has left, McLaughlin additionally runs her personal enterprise, which consists of a sexual schooling curriculum, on-line programs and workshops she created for individuals with developmental disabilities together with companion Helaine Iris. She just lately bought a curriculum to a buyer in Japan.

“It’s designed for someone with a disability and a staff person to team teach,” she stated.

She’s had fleeting ideas about what she’ll do after retirement together with her husband, Cheshire County Attorney Chris McLaughlin, now that their youngsters – 17-year-old Sophie and 21-year-old Max – are older.

She is aware of she has much more work to do locally earlier than that occurs.

“I like my life,” she stated. “Things are moving along.” 

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